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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Why Integrate Technology into the Curriculum?: The Reasons Are Many

There's a place for tech in every classroom.
By Edutopia Staff
VIDEO: An Introduction to Technology Integration
Technology is ubiquitous, touching almost every part of our lives, our communities, our homes. Yet most schools lag far behind when it comes to integrating technology into classroom learning. Many are just beginning to explore the true potential tech offers for teaching and learning. Properly used, technology will help students acquire the skills they need to survive in a complex, highly technological knowledge-based economy.
 
Integrating technology into classroom instruction means more than teaching basic computer skills and software programs in a separate computer class. Effective tech integration must happen across the curriculum in ways that research shows deepen and enhance the learning process. In particular, it must support four key components of learning: active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts. Effective technology integration is achieved when the use of technology is routine and transparent and when technology supports curricular goals.

Many people believe that technology-enabled project learning is the ne plus ultra of classroom instruction. Learning through projects while equipped with technology tools allows students to be intellectually challenged while providing them with a realistic snapshot of what the modern office looks like. Through projects, students acquire and refine their analysis and problem-solving skills as they work individually and in teams to find, process, and synthesize information they've found online.

The myriad resources of the online world also provide each classroom with more interesting, diverse, and current learning materials. The Web connects students to experts in the real world and provides numerous opportunities for expressing understanding through images, sound, and text.

New tech tools for visualizing and modeling, especially in the sciences, offer students ways to experiment and observe phenomenon and to view results in graphic ways that aid in understanding. And, as an added benefit, with technology tools and a project-learning approach, students are more likely to stay engaged and on task, reducing behavioral problems in the classroom.

Technology also changes the way teachers teach, offering educators effective ways to reach different types of learners and assess student understanding through multiple means. It also enhances the relationship between teacher and student. When technology is effectively integrated into subject areas, teachers grow into roles of adviser, content expert, and coach. Technology helps make teaching and learning more meaningful and fun. Return to our Technology Integration page to learn more.

Technology Integration Overview

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Chad's picture

Information and knowledge are a gift, and the internet and other multimedia outlets allow that gift to be shared with such a wide range of people, including todays students. I feel that technology is essential in the classroom in our ever changing world. Children today are already more adept with technology than previous generations so the future classroom will need to be filled with technology to satisfy the thirst that up and coming generations will have for a constant stream of up to date information.

Charlotte IRIS Connect's picture

Technology definitely adds an extra dimension to the classroom, giving teachers more ways to inspire and capture the imaginations of their pupils. It's important to make sure however, that teachers are given the training to ensure that they are comfortable with this integrated technology, and are able to harness it's potential effectively.

Samantha Rivers's picture

As a third grade teacher, I am trying to expose my students to more and more technology within the classroom. They are going to be exposed to it outside of the classroom, so I want them to know how to use it appropriately. I also feel that it would be a great communication tool to use with parents. My goal this year is to have a class blog where students will post discussions regarding what we are learning, and have parents and other teachers respond to their posts. Through technology, I hope students will be more engaged in their learning, and that the learning will be more meaningful to them. Great post to help educators realize the effect technology can have on students' learning.

Kayla S.'s picture

I teach at a charter school where it is very difficult for us to get funds for new technology. I am glad to report that we just received Smart Boards this year with the help of our parents who spent a lot of time fundraising. My school district subscribes to a site that some of you may be familiar with, Gizmo. It is a website that has interactive activities for all subject areas and topics. It is great! Before I received my Smart Board I would have to schedule a time for the students to go to the media center to use the computers. Although it was great that the students had their own computers, many were old and did not work. We spent half the time trying to fix computers or internet connections. Now that I have my Smart Board I do not have to try and schedule to get all my classes in the media center and I do not have to worry about failing computers. The Gizmos are great and are aligned to the state standards. Also the Gizmos come with teacher instructions and student discussion questions. When we finish the Gizmo, I either assign the questions as homework or students work in pairs to answer them. There is a free trial on the website so you can try out the Gizmos yourself and see if you like it or not.

Jessica Morgan's picture
Jessica Morgan
First grade teacher from Maryland

I am a first grade teacher at a title 1 school and I can't tell you how grateful I am for the technology I have at hand, now more then ever using my technology instead of the consumable materials that were cut from the budget has been a life savor. Without these tools I feel my teaching practices would really be suffering. Technology resources range from computers, software programs, and the Internet to digital cameras, camcorders, and voice recorders. Technology isn't a teaching substitute, but a valuable aid that introduces children to new ways of thinking and working. Plus, it's a great introduction to resources that the child's likely to use in the future. To get the maximum benefit from technology, the best classrooms implement technology into regular lessons that develop students' higher order thinking skills, promote creativity, and facilitate academic learning. I also use technology to evaluate students' progress.
First-graders work in word-processing programs to practice writing, editing, design, and keyboarding skills. The children may type words that rhyme; write a thank-you letter and add an image; or type words, changing the font, color, and size of the text. After reading stories by an author, my class may visit the author's website, and send an email to ask a question about the book. The children may also learn to use an online dictionary. They also keep a dictionary of words that he can read and spell in a word document. First-graders may learn the proper terminology to communicate about technology, such as the parts of a computer system and software terms such as menu, file, save, and quit. The children will make labels for the different parts of the computer, such as the monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer, and speakers. If these lessons are integrated with the traditional subjects of reading, writing, math, social studies, science, and art, the children will learn how technology can help them find out what they want to know and communicate their thoughts.

Gilamonsta's picture

I did not see the link to the research this article is referring to. Can it be provided?
I agree that effective technology should be routine, transparent, an authentic but I do not think that the technology in most schools allows that to happen. Schools still have a lack of connectivity and resources, untrained teachers, and a fear of losing funding due to testing scores.
I like the way Jessica Morgan uses technology with her first graders: teaching online dictionary skills and following it up with computer terminology. Students need to use technology to learn and explore but they also need to be taught the building blocks so they can communicate effectively.

Lisa N's picture
Lisa N
Fifth Grade Teacher in Michigan

I completely agree with this article and the importance of technology in the classroom. Technology is not going away. It is not going to be a phase and we need to teach our students the connection it has to their lives. Although not all school districts can afford to provide schools with the latest technology, there are still ways to incorporate technology into the classroom. For instance, our school has not provided smartboards to our entire staff. I am one teacher who was not fortunate to get one. However, I am able to utilize other forms of technology such as the computers to make learning more interesting for my students. A great website is brainpop if you haven't used it before. It gives you short, educational cartoon videos on topics across all curriculums. It also provides an online quiz, activities, and a printable quiz with each lesson. There are some free trial videos for you to watch if you have never used it before. Enjoy!

Rob Freidhoff's picture
Rob Freidhoff
Academic Advisor. Educational Technology Enthusiast. Online Learner.

In the article, the author states, "Effective tech integration must happen across the curriculum in ways that research shows deepen and enhance the learning process. In particular, it must support four key components of learning: active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts."

Agreed, but to what extent are most schools able to achieve this level of expertise? While the schools may have a responsibility for trying to make this happen through professional development and workshops, I think the greatest opportunity to make drastic improvements towards this goal is to include technology integration into pre-service education programs. For instance, as students engage in teacher assisting and student teaching, technology integration should be a common thread throughout the experience, not simply relegated to one course during the undergraduate experience.

Does anyone know of a particularly effective teacher prep program that embeds technology integration into the college of education curriculum?

Laura Valencia Lugo Bodin's picture
Laura Valencia Lugo Bodin
Spanish and French Teacher from Silver Spring, Maryland

Technology really ensures that "no child is left behind' because technology allows teachers to use different modalities - sound, sight, kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, spatial, musical - endless learning styles to ensure that every student is motivated and engaged. This, of course, in an ideal world. The reality is that very few schools have access to computers every day, all periods, all classes, much less access to the sophisticated equipment demonstrated in this video.
I feel very lucky and even spoiled to have access to a Promethean Board in all my classes. The students respond very well to the transparency tool, the magic ink, the revealer tool, immediate access to the internet, and to the containers and restrictor activities. It wakes them up, gets them excited and involved. This generation is, abovely all, supremely visual. Soon, I foresee students using tablets instead of books. These tablets will surely be linked to our smart boards. It is indeed, "a brave new world".

Lori Peterson's picture
Lori Peterson
Kindergarten Teacher from Whittier, California

Technology was used by the techie types mostly because it was so difficult for the rest of us to figure out. Fortunately, technology hasn't gotten harder, it's become simpler! I am always looking for ways to get it into the hands of my students.

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